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When The Old Woman With No Teeth decided to have children, she didn’t go about it in the usual way. Well, really, what else could you expect from The Old Woman With No Teeth? If she ever did anything the usual way, even boiling a pot of water, the world might start spinning widdershins on its axis.[more inside]
"Now you just stop that. I can read perfectly well, you impudent ragger. Set down what I told you, and don’t believe all the stories you’ve heard about me."
There are many stories about The Old Woman With No Teeth, but people should not believe all of them. The most popular one is that she wore away her teeth by chewing a tunnel to the six-sided world. Nobody knows if this story is true. Many people have looked for the passageway she is supposed to have gnawed through reality, but none of the venturers have managed to pinpoint it.
"None of the ones who’ve come back, you mean. Silly bastards."
In recognition of her transformative impact on American literature, Ursula K. Le Guin is the 2014 recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She is the Foundation’s twenty-seventh award recipient.Long live the Ekumen.
I gave up mainly because I’d got tired of watching talented actors reduced to eye candy and acting out the fantasies of overgrown adolescents who had somehow finagled their way into writing scripts. Where they were writing scripts that looked like old-time Doctor Who, without necssarily understanding why old-time Doctor Who worked and more importantly why it didn’t.Maureen K. Speller: I’m giving up on Doctor Who again. This time it may be final.
Why read an average book when you could read a great book? With so little time to read, why waste time on a so-so book? But how do you find the best books to read? Most people read whatever they stumble across at the moment. Other folks read book reviews and get recommendations from friends. Even fewer join book clubs.For those despairing of finding enough decent science fiction to read, James W. Harris sets out how to find the best science fiction books to read, including his own classics of science fiction list. [more inside]
It strikes me that these two branches of science fiction are actually conditioning us to accept our current situation. Dystopia readers are waiting for a Katniss – and then everything will be all right. Post-apocalypse readers know they’re currently better-off, even if they’re being oppressed, than they would be with gangs of marauding slavers, rapists and murderers roaming the countryside. Science fiction was once a literature which encouraged change, which explored ways and means to effect changes. Now it’s comfort reading, it makes us feel good about our reduced circumstances because at least we’re not suffering as much as the fictional characters we read about.Critic and science fiction writer Ian Sales is concerned about the state of the genre and what it says about our future.
“Worldcon is like a family reunion,” said longtime convention-goer and fanzine writer Curt Phillips, at a panel about the history of Worldcon. After a few days, I could only agree. It was indeed like being at a family reunion, in that it felt like you were spending your time with elderly relatives. You might want to talk to them and listen to their stories, but you’ll have to tolerate some offensive and outdated opinions along the way.For the Daily Dot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw examines how the growing generation gap is changing the face of fandom, comparing the recent London Worldcon with the Nine Worlds convention run the weekend before.
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
Someone once asked me why "alpha males" were so popular in so much romantic speculative fiction, and I hesitated to answer it. Not because I didn't know, but because I knew I was going to have to have a discussion about teasing out the difference between finding pleasure in something you genuinely find pleasurable and taking pleasure in something you think you're supposed to find pleasurable.Kameron Hurley talks about Gender, Family, Nookie: The Speculative Frontier.
This week we asked about Food and Drink in SF. Food and Drink in science fiction sometimes seems limited to replicator requests for Earl Grey tea and Soylent green discs. Why doesn’t do as much food as Fantasy? Does Fantasy lend itself more to food than Science fiction? Why? This is what they had to say…[more inside]
What happens when two great black women fiction writers get together to talk about race in young adult literature? That's exactly what happens in the conversation below, where Zetta Elliott, a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children, and award-winning Haitian-American speculative fiction writer Ibi Aanu Zoboi decided to discuss current young adult sci-fi.
Estrangement and unfamiliarity, particularly in relation to ugliness and the repulsiveness of the alien body, are central to her work. And this is what gets me. The non-human creatures she imagines make me cringe and their relationships with humans in her fiction are even harder to stomach. My first reaction to the Tlic race in Butler’s 1984 short story, “Bloodchild,” was disgust, made all the more unnerving because of the great care Butler seemed to take in the description of the strange species; the serpentine movements of their long, segmented bodies resemble giant worms with rows of limbs and insect-like stingers.For The Hooded Utilitarian's roundtable on Octavia Butler Qiana Whitted looks at how Butler uses revulsion and disgust to make the reader work to find empathy with the Other. [more inside]
The Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke and Hugo awards are the Triple Crown of science-fiction writing. If Ancillary Justice claims the Hugo, it will become the first novel to win all three. After years toiling in obscurity, Leckie's given up trying to wrap her mind around how quickly she and her gun-slinging, galaxy-traversing heroine, Breq, have climbed to critical and popular adoration.The St Louis Riverfront Times takes a look at the success of local author Ann Leckie and what it means for science fiction as a whole. (print edition.)
Leckie's success — and the fact that it was achieved with a novel that not only has a strong female protagonist, but also refers to all of its characters, male or female, as "she" — comes at an interesting time. Barely a year ago the science-fiction community was tearing itself apart over sexism allegations. Seemingly in response, the 2013 Nebula Awards marked the first time in its nearly 50-year history that all of the winners were women.
In case you are thinking otherwise, I was not scouring the text for these solecisms, setting out to set you up, but like all people who are preparing a review I was keeping notes throughout the reading. The protocols around a first novel by a young writer do matter. I kept noting all the bad stuff (much more than reported here), but I was looking for good bits with which to try to encourage you. I found none. It gradually dawned on me that I was wasting my time. Barricade was unyielding in its awfulness. It was a book I did not wish to write about.Christopher Priest is less than complimentary about fellow science fiction writer Jon Wallace's Barricade. [more inside]
But from a method of creating a more informed electorate, the voter packet has come to be seen as a goody bag. Does anyone think that the thousand new Worldcon members who joined after the nominations were announced did so because of a genuine interest in the award? A sizable percentage of them, at least, probably did so in order to get free ebook copies of the entire Wheel of Time series for a mere $50.Science fiction critic Abigail Nussbaum talks about the expectations the Hugo Awards Voters packet sets for the awards themselves (And also why calling people entitled for being disappointed Orbit didn't include its nominations is wrong).
From what I saw the plurality of students and faculty had been educated exclusively in the tradition of writers like William Gaddis, Francine Prose, or Alice Munro—and not at all in the traditions of Toni Morrison, Cherrie Moraga, Maxine Hong-Kingston, Arundhati Roy, Edwidge Danticat, Alice Walker, or Jamaica Kincaid. In my workshop the default subject position of reading and writing—of Literature with a capital L—was white, straight and male. This white straight male default was of course not biased in any way by its white straight maleness—no way! Race was the unfortunate condition of nonwhite people that had nothing to do with white people and as such was not a natural part of the Universal of Literature, and anyone that tried to introduce racial consciousness to the Great (White) Universal of Literature would be seen as politicizing the Pure Art and betraying the (White) Universal (no race) ideal of True Literature.In the New Yorker Junot Diaz talks about MFA vs POC. [more inside]
So when someone like John C. Wright holds up Heinlein as the best SF writer ever, I have to wonder what world they’re living in. An important writer in the genre, absolutely. The best ever? Really? Way to declare the race over before everyone’s even gotten to the starting line, buddy.Natalie Luhrs is unhappy about John Wright's invocation of Robert Heinlein to bolster claims of witch hunts against rightwing science fiction writers. [more inside]
Because that’s what he’s doing, right? He’s trying to draw a line around SF. In Wright’s world, there’s no room in SF for people who aren’t like him and, furthermore, no one’s work can ever come close to that of a man who died in 1988. That’s just. No. I don’t want to read that kind of SF anymore. I did my time there and it’s well past time to move on.